The bluest water one has ever seen is one of the biggest draws of this National treasure in Oregon. But Crater Lake is also full of interesting history and enough breathtaking scenery to leave you in awe.
From Wild to Joy
In early Spring I read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s a fantastic memoir about Chery’s 1100 mile solo trek along the Pacific Coast Trail in a bid to escape her demons. I fell in love with her writing, her complete idiocy for attempting such a feat with no previous hiking experience, and her determination.
What intrigued me the most, however, were the places she saw along the way. Her description of Crater Lake, in particular, had my travel bugs ferociously biting, and I just knew I had to see it for myself.
It only took three months for my itching to subside, ironically the same amount of time it took Cheryl to finish her trek along the Pacific Coast Trail. I somehow managed to convince hubby to read the book too, and a road trip was planned. You didn’t actually think we were going to hike the same trail, did you?
During our own travels, we happened to run across a few of the other destination points Cheryl mentions in the book, including, the ‘Bridge of the Gods’, and several entry points along the Pacific Coast Trail. However the most remarkable, and memorable, is definitely Crater Lake.
Surrounded by picturesque cliffs almost two thousand feet high, and water so blue you’d think it was fake, Crater Lake truly takes your breath away. Although it has a violent volcanic past, it is now a place of sheer beauty and tranquillity.
The lake was formed around 7000+ years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. The water now partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot (655 m) deep volcanic collapse, called a caldera. With a depth of 1,949 feet (594 m), it is the deepest lake in the United States. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake, so its depth is maintained by rain and snowfall.
How To Explore
There are many points of interest, as well as trails that meander around the lake for one to explore.
In the summer you can drive around the entire lake.
The West Rim Drive offers incredible views and a quicker route through the park. But the 39 km, East Rim Drive is apparently just as spectacular, and much more varied.
We travelled there mid-June and sadly a few weeks too early as Crater Lake experiences snowfalls up until the beginning of summer. Many of the roads and trails along the East Rim Drive were still closed due to heavy snow. So our wish to traipse along the many hiking trails which lead to several points of interest along the lake was dashed.
Nevertheless, we were still determined to enjoy as much of Crater Lake as we could. And that we did!
Camping at Crater Lake
One of the major advantages of camping in June is not having to fight the crowds, and being able to choose prime camping spots at will.
We stayed at the beautiful Mazama Village Campground for three nights.
It is quiet, private, well treed, and has clean amenities. I liked that each site provides bear-proof lockers, something that is a necessity in the area. You are also allowed to collect dead wood for your campfire, which isn’t something you are typically allowed to do at the campsites at home. And for some reason, there is a TON of it lying around!?
The local store is within easy walking distance from most campsites and has a good selection of groceries at a fairly reasonable price. There is also a restaurant (and gift shop) for those who are tired of camping fare.
The in-laws were camping with us this time around, so hubby and I took advantage of the fact we had babysitters and enjoyed a nice meal on our own at the restaurant.
Although I don’t have many complaints about this particular campground, the one thing I will warn you about is the mosquitoes. They were brutal! Bug spray is an absolute must!
The elevation of Crater Lake is around 6000 feet. And as I mentioned, snow is not unheard of at almost any time of year. So be prepared for it to be cold!
Other Accommodation Options
If you aren’t inclined to camp, you will be happy to know there are cabins for rent in Mazama Village.
There is also the lovely Historic Crater Lake Lodge. I would have much preferred to stay in the lodge (I bet you there are no mosquitoes in there!). However, it’s really hard to convince hubby of such things when we have a 29′ trailer being pulled behind us.
However, even the cold and mosquitoes didn’t dampen my excitement of being at Crater Lake.
If you haven’t been, you really need to see the beauty of it for yourself!
Getting to Crater Lake
Year-round, you can enter the park from the West (Medford area) and the South (Klamath Falls area)
West – Follow Hwy 62 to the park’s West Entrance.
South – Take Hwy 97 to Hwy 62 and the park’s South Entrance.
From the North – Leave Interstate 5 just south of Eugene. Take Hwy 58 to Hwy 97 to Hwy 138. Follow Hwy 138 to the park’s North Entrance.
Please note, dates can vary, but typically the north entrance is closed from early November to mid-June. Obviously, if the North Entrance is closed, enter either through the West entrance or South entrance, as mentioned above.
Tell me, have you been to Crater Lake? Is it on your travel bucket list?
Let me know in the comments below.
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